Vitiligo is a skin disease characterized by the patchy loss of pigment. These white patches may appear just about anywhere, but they may be more likely to appear on areas of the body that have been sunburned or exposed to sunlight for many years. The face, hands, and arms are common areas for vitiligo to strike. However, the disease can also occur on body parts typically never exposed to the sun, such as the genital area. Vitiligo is not painful or contagious. It's thought to probably be an autoimmune disease, which is one in which the body attacks its tissues. In the case of vitiligo, this attack would be directed at the melanocytes, which are specialized skin cells that produce melanin, which colors the skin, hair, and eyes.
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Anti-inflammatory creams are corticosteroidal topical preparations used to help restore normal color to patches of vitiligo. These medications range in strength from mild to very strong. Generally, the more potent corticosteroid creams are used for vitiligo. When steroid creams are applied to large areas of the skin, they can have negative systemic effects, and because of this, the use of anti-inflammatory creams may be limited to small areas of vitiligo only.
Sometimes steroid creams are combined with other medications to enhance results. In addition to possible systemic side effects, steroid creams can cause the skin to become very thin and dry. Vitiligo patches on the hands and feet may not respond as well to this treatment as other body areas. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about half of patients with vitiligo who try steroid creams will see at least a partial restoration of normal skin color after four to six months of treatment.
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